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Foreign aid budget could be cut temporarily due to Covid
17 November 2020, 07:04
The foreign aid budget could reportedly be cut temporarily after the UK's public finances took a hit dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
The Times reported plans had been drawn up to pare back the commitment to spend at least 0.7% of national income on foreign aid to 0.5%, and the move could be announced in the chancellor's comprehensive spending review next week.
A Treasury official did not deny the report but declined to comment on speculation about fiscal events.
The UK has already said it would be cutting its global aid budget by £2.9 billion this year due to the economic hit of the coronavirus crisis, but that the 0.7% commitment towards international development would still be met.
The spending on Official Development Assistance was set to be £15.8 billion this year before the Covid-19 crisis emerged.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants the cut to last no longer than a year, the Times reported.
However foreign secretary Dominic Raab, when taking the helm of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in September, said the Government was "absolutely" committed to the 0.7% target.
The gross national income of the UK in 2019 was £2.17 trillion, meaning a drop from 0.7% to 0.5% would account for more than £4 billion.
The 0.7% target was first agreed by the United Nations in 1970, and the UK Government has met the target since 2013. It was enshrined into law in 2015.